Fynn Brechbiel, a Gladstone sophomore, said from the moment he arrived at Molalla High School on Friday that he knew nothing.
The woman guiding Brechbiel and the Gladstone boys basketball program to the locker room was holding her phone at an odd angle behind her head, and he said it took a moment before he realized what photo he was displaying.
It had a picture of a Confederate flag on it, Brechbiel, who is Black, said. It was not a way that you usually hold your phone, behind her head like that. So, it seemed like she wanted us to see the flag.
Brechbiel, a member of the junior varsity team, said he advised a teammate to be aware that something serious might happen that night. His game came and went without incident. Then he moved on to his duties as video coordinator for the varsity team.
I was talking to my friends and I turned around because everyone was looking at this one kid. He had his face, neck, and arms painted completely black at their school, so kids were wearing black clothes or with, like, black squares on their face or under their eyes. That's right, though, though.
Brechbiel's friends advised him to confront the Molalla student, who was adorned in what Brechbiel described as blackface. He was reluctant, he said, because he wanted to avoid conflict. But Brechbiel said he calmly asked the Molalla student why he had black paint all over his face.
The Molalla student and his friends sarcastically said, 'Oh yeah, we are racist.'
Brechbiel was reportedly back on the stand to watch the varsity game finish. He couldn't hear it from his position, but several other racial protests reportedly took place.
Students from the Molalla student section were making monkey noises when Gladstone went to the free throw line, according to Ricky White, a biracial senior. Afterward, some players were emotionally distressed by the taunts.
I feel very disappointed, White said. Obviously the people doing this is racially motivated, but it's not just that motivating me to be dissatisfied. It's also the fact that we minorities feel like we're on our own when we enter an environment where we know about it. No white students or athletes from our school will step up and say something, and it's sad.
This is the second alleged racism Gladstone has encountered in recent months. On November 5, members of the football team claimed white players from La Grande during a Class 4A playoff match. The Oregon School Activities Association commissioned a third-party investigation into the alleged incident and, after two months,
According to the Oregonian/OregonLive, the OSAA is investigating the Molalla incident in conjunction with two schools. This comes as the governing body investigates an alleged racist incident at a, and as the Benson girls basketball team accuses students at Camas High School in Washington.
On Monday, Brechbiel said, he received a phone call from Molalla's school resource officer, who tried to refute his blackface allegations.
I felt like I was being taken advantage of by the officer, Brechbiel said. I almost felt bad for saying something, but then I thought about it and realized, this is crazy. Why would I feel ashamed for saying something like this? I was even attempting to obtain evidence of what happened.
Photos and video of the incident from Oregonian/OregonLive show the Molalla student covered his entire face, neck, and arms with black paint.
"I just don't get how somebody could do that," Brechbiel said. "If this kid really didn't see anything wrong with it, then there's something wrong with how they're being taught at school. The fact they laughed and didn't see it as that big of a deal, that's the part that really irritated me."
On Sunday, Molalla River School District superintendent Tony Mann responded to the incident in a letter to the community. He acknowledged that a Molalla student wore blackface and said other allegations, including those involving "posturing and language," are under investigation.
This is not Molalla, Mann said. This is not who we are. I want to emphasize that not all of the facts about student behavior are known at this time. At this time, we have begun an investigation to verify all of the facts concerning these events. Discriminatory behavior on the basis of race or skin color will not be tolerated. Upon completion of our investigation, action will be taken in accordance with School Board Policy and the law. Each and every student belongs and deserves to feel safe in Molalla!
Ryan Clarke, vice president of finance.